CARTERVILLE — Crown Brew Coffee has opened at 116 N. Division St. in downtown Carterville.
On Friday, the new coffee shop hosted a ribbon cutting with Carterville Chamber of Commerce and grand opening. The celebration will continue from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The shop will have live music, prizes, giveaways and flash sales.
Harriet Mize, executive director of Carterville Chamber of Commerce, said her husband accuses her of forgetting and repeating things as she gets older, but she never tires of saying one thing.
“It seems like I am always saying thank you for investing in Carterville,” Mize said.
Josh Benitone, one of the three owners of the business, said he got interested in coffee while on a mission trip in Guatemala. He was staying with a woman named Adela who owned a small coffee farm. She served a breakfast of huevos rancheros, frijoles and coffee. Not being a fan of coffee, Benitone was thinking how he could doctor his coffee and manage to drink it. Another team member suggested he try it black.
“It was my first great cup of coffee,” Benitone said.
He started buying coffee beans to help small farmers like Adela and bringing them to friends and family at home.
For Jared Gravatt, another owner, his venture into the business of coffee fulfilled a childhood dream.
“I grew up in Southern Illinois, and would dream of a really cool coffee shop to hang out at that had art on the walls and exposed brick,” Gravatt said. “We wanted to create something really cool for the area.”
Benitone, Gravatt and Andy Reynolds, the other owner who was not present on Friday, a coffee shop was in their business plan — for 2018.
Benitone and Gravatt joked that the reason the shop opened was that Tom Harness of Harness Digital Marketing wanted a coffee shop under his business, which is located on the second floor of the Irons in the Fire building. The coffee shop is just north of Irons in the Fire Apothecary on the first floor of the building.
The pair also praised T.J. and Jeromy Fricke of Irons in the Fire for giving the project their full effort and heart.
“We do believe in community and we do pour our hearts into our community," T.J. Fricke said, fighting back tears.
“This happened after one afternoon of conversation and six days of child labor,” Jeromy Fricke said.
Benitone said they were offered the opportunity to open a coffee shop in the space that formerly housed Bottski’s and they jumped on it.
Mayor Brad Robinson said he became a coffee drinker out of necessity when he began working as a firefighter.
“Now I drink it for the taste, and this is the place,” Robinson said.
Other seasoned coffee drinkers also praised the coffee. Benitone said the reason their baristas ask questions is that each cup of coffee is brewed for that customer. They ask the customer to taste their drink and can adjust it to taste.
After his experience in Guatemala, Bentone began learning and asking questions.
“If the coffee tastes so much better in the same machine, what if there’s a better way of making coffee,” he said. “That’s the mission I embarked on.”
Crown Brew Coffee Company offers pour over, French press and cold brew coffee. They brew each cup individually, starting with five grams of coffee per three ounces of water. When the cup is perfect, they share the recipe with the customer so they will know their exact recipe for their next order.
"Each cup is tailor-made for the individual customer,” Benitone said.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The coffee shop is closed on Sunday.